Archive for Afghanistan

Merry Christmas

Posted in Miscellaneous, Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 24, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

As I write this post, Santa has already begun his annual mission to bring joy to children (young and old) around the World.

For many reasons, this is a difficult job for Santa.  Not only is it an overwhelming challenge to deliver presents to all of those on his ‘Nice‘ list in a 24-hour period, but it is also difficult to ensure that all of those who receive the gifts of the season truly feel the Christmas Spirit.  Bringing a Merry Christmas to the entire World may seem insurmountable, but I have faith that Santa will be victorious to ensure that everyone is living in harmony with the Christmas Spirit.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”

Roy L. Smith[i]

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I want to wish all of my blog and Twitter friends a very Merry Christmas.  May the joy of this season and the Christmas Spirit reach your heart and your home this day, and everyday.  Having friends like you during this special time of year has certainly delivered joy to me.  Merry Christmas to you and your family.  And, as you enjoy the Christmas season, please take a moment to remember our men and women serving our Country around the World, and pray that they may feel the Christmas Spirit also.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Twas the night before Christmas in Afghanistan[iii-a]

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Military Christmas Poem           (as heard in the video above)

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas,
He Lived All Alone,
In A One Bedroom House
Made Of Plaster And Stone.

I Had Come Down The Chimney
With Presents To Give,
And To See Just Who
In This Home Did Live.

I Looked All About,
A Strange Sight I Did See,
No Tinsel, No Presents,
Not Even A Tree.

No Stocking By Mantle,
Just Boots Filled With Sand,
On The Wall Hung Pictures
Of Far Distant Lands.

With Medals And Badges,
Awards Of All Kinds,
A Sober Thought
Came Through My Mind.

For This House Was Different,
It Was Dark And Dreary,
I Found The Home Of A Soldier,
Once I Could See Clearly.

The Soldier Lay Sleeping,
Silent, Alone,
Curled Up On The Floor
In This One Bedroom Home.

The Face Was So Gentle,
The Room In Such Disorder,
Not How I Pictured
A United States Soldier.

Was This The Hero
Of Whom I’d Just Read?
Curled Up On A Poncho,
The Floor For A Bed?

I Realized The Families
That I Saw This Night,
Owed Their Lives To These Soldiers
Who Were Willing To Fight.

Soon Round The World,
The Children Would Play,
And Grownups Would Celebrate
A Bright Christmas Day.

They All Enjoyed Freedom
Each Month Of The Year,
Because Of The Soldiers,
Like The One Lying Here.

I Couldn’t Help Wonder
How Many Lay Alone,
On A Cold Christmas Eve
In A Land Far From Home.

The Very Thought
Brought A Tear To My Eye,
I Dropped To My Knees
And Started To Cry.

The Soldier Awakened
And I Heard A Rough Voice,
“Santa Don’t Cry,
This Life Is My Choice;

I Fight For Freedom,
I Don’t Ask For More,
My Life Is My God,
My Country, My Corps.”

The Soldier Rolled Over
And Drifted To Sleep,
I Couldn’t Control It,
I Continued To Weep.

I Kept Watch For Hours,
So Silent And Still
And We Both Shivered
From The Cold Night’s Chill.

I Didn’t Want To Leave
On That Cold, Dark, Night,
This Guardian Of Honor
So Willing To Fight.

Then The Soldier Rolled Over,
With A Voice Soft And Pure,
Whispered, “Carry On Santa,
It’s Christmas Day, All Is Secure.”

One Look At My Watch,
And I Knew He Was Right.
“Merry Christmas My Friend,
And To All A Good Night.”

Written by Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt in 1986. Printed in Leatherneck (The Magazines for the Marines) in December 1991, under the title “Merry Christmas, My Friend.”[ii]

Also known as “A Soldier’s Silent Night”[iii-b]

Share on Twitter

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Related Post –

Merry Christmas (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)

A Soldier’s Christmas | A Different Christmas Poem (billericapolitics.org)

Footnote –

[i] Roy L. Smith. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved December 24, 2012, from BrainyQuote.com Web site: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/r/roy_l_smith.html
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/citation/quotes/authors/r/roy_l_smith.html#gVohdkFyMKDWeWHj.99

[ii] Military Christmas Poem – Posted by  – About.com / US Military – http://usmilitary.about.com/od/theorderlyroom/a/xmaspoem.htm – Accessed December 24, 2012 – About.com Guide (US Military) – http://usmilitary.about.com/ – About.com Guide – http://www.about.com/

[iii-a,b] The poem spoken in the video is known as “A Soldier’s Silent Night,” written originally by Marine Corps Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt in 1986 (see note to poem within this post, and footnote [ii]).  It is narrated by Father Ted Berndt.  A Soldier’s Silent Nighthttp://www.asoldiersilentnight.com/ – Accessed December 24, 2012

*Another video version of A Soldier’s Silent Night can be found at the post Soldier’s Silent Night on the blog Fellowship of the Minds.

Photo Credit –

Santa – Dave Kenyon and his blog Insights Incites Change, on the post Living in Harmony with The Christmas Spirit; accessed on Monday, December 24, 2012

Soldier –  Fetrow Creations website – http://www.fetrowcreations.com/ – Accessed December 24, 2012

Reading the Professional Soldier

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Highly recommended reading.

Carrying the Gun

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks reading about the professional soldier and some of the issues faced by the US Army in managing the professional force. The number of articles on the topic suggests there is an issue that needs to be addressed.

These are three good articles to read for junior leaders in the force. They raise hard questions.

Afghanistan: A Gathering Menace (The American Scholar) – a journalist’s take on traveling with US soldiers. Is this just bravado or a toxic culture?

Lost in Translation: How the Army has Garbled the Message about the Nature of Its Profession (Military Review) – Are we soldiers or warriors? Does it matter?

Honor, not law (Armed Forces Journal) – especially relevant in light of the Afghanistan massacre. The author argues that it is honor and values that shape battlefield behavior, not law.

Enjoy these posts? Follow me…

View original post 10 more words

The True Undercover Boss

Posted in Current Affairs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Meet Admiral William McRaven: The True Undercover Boss

Admiral William McRaven was the Special Operations coach for SEAL Team Six for the operation that brought down the World’s leading terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, last May.  And, last night, Both Adm. McRaven and SEAL Team Six had another big night.  Adm. McRaven was the guest of Michelle Obama at her husband’s State of the Union Address.  And, before President Barack Obama’s speech to combined session of Congress and the American people, forces under Adm. McRaven’s command were carrying out a special operations mission to rescue two hostages from the hands of pirates in Somalia.  Navy SEAL Team Six, the same unit that killed Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, carried out a nighttime helicopter raid on Somali kidnappers during the rescue of American Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagan Thisted of Denmark, aid workers taken hostage last October.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A Select Biographical Summary about Admiral William McRaven –

Admiral McRaven is the ninth commander of United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.  USSOCOM ensures the readiness of joint special operations forces and, as directed, conducts operations worldwide.[i-a]

Adm. McRaven served from June 2008 to June 2011 as the 11th commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C.  JSOC is charged to study special operations requirements and techniques, ensure interoperability and equipment standardization, plan and conduct special operations exercises and training, and develop joint special operations tactics.[i-b]

Adm. McRaven served from June 2006 to March 2008 as commander, Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR).  In addition to his duties as commander, SOCEUR, he was designated as the first director of the NATO Special Operations Forces Coordination Centre where he was charged with enhancing the capabilities and interoperability of all NATO Special Operations Forces.[i-c]

Adm. McRaven has commanded at every level within the special operations community, including assignments as deputy commanding general for operations at JSOC, commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group 1, commander of SEAL Team 3, task group commander in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, task unit commander during Desert Storm and Desert Shield, squadron commander at Naval Special Warfare Development Group, and SEAL platoon commander at Underwater Demolition Team 21/SEAL Team 4.[ii-a]

Adm. McRaven’s diverse staff and interagency experience includes assignments as the director for Strategic Planning in the Office of Combating Terrorism on the National Security Council Staff, assessment director at U.S. Special Operations Command, on the Staff of the Chief of Naval Operations and the chief of staff at Naval Special Warfare Group 1.[ii-b]

Adm. McRaven’s professional education includes assignment to the Naval Postgraduate School, where he helped establish and was the first graduate from the Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict curriculum.[ii-c]

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Admiral McRaven was the terrorist hunter on whose shoulders Osama bin Laden raid rested.  Soon after the successful operation that eliminated Osama bin Laden, conducted by SEAL Team Six, Adm. McRaven’s name emerged as the architect of the mission.  At the time, Admiral McRaven was former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ recommended new leader of U.S. Special Operations Command.  One of the most experienced terrorist hunters, Adm. McRaven tapped a special unit of Navy SEALs for the mission two earlier.  The author of a textbook titled “Spec Ops,” McRaven had long emphasized six key requirements for any successful mission: surprise, speed, security, simplicity, purpose and repetition.  For the especially risky bin Laden operation, he insisted on another: precision.  A former SEAL himself, Adm. McRaven had overseen weeks of intensive training for a covert operation that could cripple al-Qaeda if it worked, or strain an already troubled alliance with Pakistan if it went awry.[iii]

Choppering 25 Navy SEALs into a populated area covered by the air defenses of an unsuspecting sovereign nation.  Fast-roping them down into a fortified compound containing unknown numbers of enemies.  Killing or capturing the world’s most dangerous terrorist.  Extracting them safely and flying them to Afghanistan the same way they came.[iv]  That was the plan.  A daring plan that we now know was a great success, although one of the two Blackhawk helicopters that carried the SEALs into bin Laden’s Pakistani compound grazed one of the compound’s wall and was forced to make a hard landing.  Osama bin Laden was eliminated, SEAL Team Six became American heroes, and Admiral McRaven became a household name.

Fast forward nine months, and Admiral McRaven again finds himself front and center.  Last night, he was one of Michelle Obama’s many guests, along with other military guests, at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.  As the television cameras captured him sitting in the gallery of spectators, he appeared calm and composed.  He did not look like a person who had just ordered the rescue of two hostages being held by pirates in Somalia, nor did he appear to be stressed or anxious about the mission’s outcome.

U.S. military forces sent helicopters into Somalia in a nighttime raid Tuesday and freed the two hostages who had been captured on October 25, 2011.  The raid was conducted by a joint team involving Special Operations Forces, including Navy SEAL Team Six, the same unit that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May 2011.[iv]  See Fox News’ television report on this raid at this link.  The two hostages were freed uninjured after a shoot-out that resulted in nine of their captors being killed.  There were no casualties reported among US forces.

In an interview on ABC News Good Morning America this morning, Vice President Joe Biden said that the senior leadership of the Special Forces (Admiral McRaven) recommended that now was the time and the opportunity to act, and the President authorized the mission.  In discussing the Special Forces that conducted the raid, he said that they are “The most incredible warriors this World has ever seen.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta released a statement this morning on the hostage rescue operation in Somalia:

Last night U.S. Special Operations Forces conducted, by order of the President of the United States, a successful mission in Somalia to rescue two individuals taken hostage on October 25, 2011. Ms. Jessica Buchanan, an American citizen employed by the Danish Demining Group, and her Danish colleague, Mr. Poul Thisted, were kidnapped at gunpoint by criminal suspects near Galcayo, Somalia.

Ms. Buchanan and Mr. Thisted have been transported to a safe location where we will evaluate their health and make arrangements for them to return home.

This successful hostage rescue, undertaken in a hostile environment, is a testament to the superb skills of courageous service members who risked their lives to save others. I applaud their efforts, and I am pleased that Ms. Buchanan and Mr. Thisted were not harmed during the operation. This mission demonstrates our military’s commitment to the safety of our fellow citizens wherever they may be around the world.

I am grateful to report that there was no loss of life or injuries to our personnel.

I express my deepest gratitude to all the military and civilian men and women who supported this operation. This was a team effort and required close coordination, especially between the Department of Defense and our colleagues in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They are heroes and continue to inspire all of us by their bravery and service to our nation.[v]

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Members of the military, and those who lead them, do not seek fame or fortune for the heroic acts they perform.  They are doing their job.  The results of their success are felt throughout America in the sustained freedom, and the protection from foreign aggressors who threaten that freedom, that we all enjoy.  We sometimes take for granted what these men and women do, and we sometimes forget that they are out there doing these kinds of things when we least expect it.  The members of SEAL Team Six deserve the recognition and praise on this day after such a daring and successful mission.  And, to Admiral McRaven, our gratitude for mastering the profession of arms and the ability to be a leader of character and a gentleman in the face of challenge and adversity.  Admiral McRaven’s charisma displayed on Tuesday night is a true example of what our senior military leaders are all about.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson


Footnotes –

[i-a,b,c] “Admiral William H. McRaven – Commander, United States Special Operations Command – United States Navy” – United States Navy Biography – Updated 24 January 2012 – http://www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/navybio.asp?bioid=401 – Accessed 25 January 2012 – NAVY.mil (Official Website of the United States Navy) – http://navy.mil

[ii-a,b,c] “What Michelle Obama’s guests tell us about the State of the Union”Guest List for the First Lady’s Box – State of the Union Address – Posted by Brad Plumer – Posted on 01/24/2012 – Ezra Klein’s WONKBLOGhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/what-michelle-obamas-guest-list-tells-us-about-the-state-of-the-union/2012/01/24/gIQAJw4COQ_blog.html – Accessed 25 January 2012 – The Washington Post – http://www.washingtonpost.com/

.[iii] “Adm. William McRaven: The Terrorist Hunter on whose Shoulders Osama bin Laden Raid Rested” – By Craig Whitlock – Published: May 4, 2011 – The Washington Post Nationalhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/national/adm-william-mcraven-the-terrorist-hunter-on-whose-shoulders-osama-bin-laden-raid-rested/2011/05/04/AFsEv4rF_story.html – Accessed 4 May 2011 – The Washington Post – http://www.washingtonpost.com/

[iv] “Spec Ops Chief Sketched Out bin Laden Raid…in 1995”– By Spencer Ackerman – Posted May 3, 2011 – Danger Room – http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/05/risky-bin-laden-raid-came-from-commanders-book/ – Accessed 25 January 2012 – Wired – http://www.wired.com

[iv] “US Military Raid Frees American, Dane Held Hostage in Somalia” – FoxNews.com (with contributions from The Associated Press) – Published January 25, 2012 – http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/01/25/sources-us-raid-frees-american-and-dane-held-hostage-in-somalia/ – Accessed 25 January 2012 – Fox News – http://www.foxnews.com

[v] “SECDEF Releases Statement on Hostage Rescue Operation in Somalia” – Press Released Statement by the Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta – Release Date 01/25/2012 – http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=64962 – NAVY.mil (Official Website of the United States Navy) – http://www.navy.mil

Quote of the Day – January 24, 2012

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

“We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al-Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.

These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America’s Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together.

Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example.

Above all, our freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it.

Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn from the service of our troops. When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or liberal; rich or poor; gay or straight. When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails. When you’re in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one Nation, leaving no one behind.

One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden. On it are each of their names. Some may be Democrats. Some may be Republicans. But that doesn’t matter. All that mattered that day was the mission. No one thought about politics. No one thought about themselves. One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn’t deserve credit for the mission. It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job — the pilot who landed the helicopter that spun out of control; the translator who kept others from entering the compound; the troops who separated the women and children from the fight; the SEALs who charged up the stairs. More than that, the mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other — because you can’t charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there’s someone behind you, watching your back.”

Barack Obama, in his State of the Union Address, January 24, 2012

Source –

“Transcript: Obama’s State Of The Union Address”The text of President Obama’s State of the Union address, as released by the White Househttp://www.npr.org/2012/01/24/145812810/transcript-obamas-state-of-the-union-address – Accessed 24 January 2012 – http://www.npr.org

Listen, Learn…Then Lead

Posted in Leadership, Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

by Stanley McChrystal (as seen on TED.com)

The Video of the Week

(scroll down to see today’s video)

With a remarkable record of achievement, General Stanley McChrystal has been praised for creating a revolution in warfare that fused intelligence and operations. A four-star general, he is the former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan and the former leader of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which oversees the military’s most sensitive forces. McChrystal’s leadership of JSOC is credited with the December 2003 capture of Saddam Hussein and the June 2006 location and killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. McChrystal, a former Green Beret, is known for his candor.

After McChrystal graduated from West Point, he was commissioned as an infantry officer, and spent much of his career commanding special operations and airborne infantry units. During the Persian Gulf War, McChrystal served in a Joint Special Operations Task Force and later commanded the 75th Ranger Regiment. He completed year-long fellowships at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1997 and in 2000 at the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2002, he was appointed chief of staff of military operations in Afghanistan. Two years later, McChrystal was selected to deliver nationally televised Pentagon briefings about military operations in Iraq. From 2003 to 2008, McChrystal commanded JSOC and was responsible for leading the nation’s deployed military counter-terrorism efforts around the globe. He assumed command of all International Forces in Afghanistan in June 2009. President Obama’s order for an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan was based on McChrystal’s assessment of the war there. McChrystal retired from the military in August 2010.

In the following video from TED.com, General McChrystal shares what he learned about leadership over his decades in the military. How can you build a sense of shared purpose among people of many ages and skill sets? By listening and learning — and addressing the possibility of failure. Some of the key points General McChrystal emphasizes in this discussion are:

1) If your people do everything you taught them to do, and they do those things properly, you led them well. People follow leaders.

2) Leaders can let you fail, and yet not let you be a failure.

3) Leaders build confidence and trust in their people. And, those who you are leading have to have faith and trust in the leader. Leaders have to build faith, trust and confidence.

4) In failure, the leader must reach out to his force and rebuild trust and confidence…rebuilt confidence in the force, rebuilt confidence in the leader, and rebuilt confidence in the seniors of the leader and the force.

5) A leader must build consensus and a sense of shared purpose with his force.

6) How does a leader stay credible and legitimate when they haven’t done what the people their leading are doing? Leaders must become more transparent and a lot more willing to listen.

7) Keep your promises and live up to your obligations; to your subordinates, your peers and your superiors. Be ready to support them when they need you most.

8) A leader isn’t good because he is right. They’re good because their willing to learn, and to trust. If you are a leader, the people you’ve counted on will help you out. And, if you’re a leader, the people who count on you need you on your feet.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sources –

TED.com: Ideas Worth Spreading – Listen, Learn…Then Lead: Stanley McChrystal on TED.comhttp://blog.ted.com/2011/04/05/listen-learn-then-lead-stanley-mcchrystal-on-ted-com/

TED.com: Ideas Worth Spreading – Stanley McChrystal’s Profile on TED.com – “Stanley McChrystal: Military leader”http://www.ted.com/speakers/stanley_mcchrystal.html

%d bloggers like this: